September 20, 2001

9/20/01 Santa Fe, NM

41.8 / 8026 miles

As the sun went down, the only sounds heard were the howling of the coyotes. It sounded as if the whole canyon was surrounded. Later, a car cruised the campground but I was well hidden from the headlights. Even so, I slept in my cycling clothes in case I needed to blend into the landscape.

The only person I saw when I left was the caretaker as he arrived. "No one bothered you?" he asked. Just the one car I told him. But I felt rested despite everything. I sure needed it for the climb out of the canyon.

But once at the top, I had a roller-coaster descent all the way to the highway, complete with a huge shoulder. That all changed when my route got me to Hwy-285. Near some of the newer sections around the casinos, I still had plenty of room. But that was the exception. Most of the ride into Santa Fe was on a very busy divided highway without a shoulder, or when I did have one, it was so torn up I took my chances with the trucks in the outside lane. A long, mostly uphill, white-knuckle ride I can tell you!

Since I was early, instead of heading straight to Christine Johnson's house, I took a detour to historic downtown Santa Fe. Some looked familiar from a visit I had years ago, but I don't remember it being this big and crowded. Walked around the central plaza by the St. Francis Cathedral. Outside the Loretto Chapel, I met Casey and Becky Hamill from Denver. Besides talking about the bike trip, I found out Becky was an Occupational Therapist. They had changed their vacation plans because of the events in New York, coming to Santa Fe instead of heading to the East Coast. Last stop was the San Miguel Mission (1610), one of the oldest churches in the United States.

St Francis Cathedral

Loretto Chapel

San Miguel Mission

Once I had a map of the city obtained from the visitor center, getting to Chris's house was pretty easy. All the major roads had a bike lane, so I felt reasonably safe. Stopped by the few bike shops in town, including Rob & Charlies Bike Shop. Stephen gave me some route advise for my southern leg through New Mexico. I should have bought another road tire but thought I could get it tomorrow.

Christine Johnson is the mother of a very good friend and coworker of mine back in Kansas City. At first I felt Christel might have roped her mom into letting me stay with her a few days. But after the bone-crushing hug her mom gave me when I arrived, I knew Christine was happy to have me. After getting cleaned up, she took me to Castro's (Restaurante Comidas Nativas) for some real southwest cooking. Great food, big portions and a cheap price. But we hurried back to hear the president's speech to the nation. Christel called later to make sure I made it safe, and to see if her mom had been nice to me. When saying goodbye, she gave me the message to call my boss back in Kansas City when I got the chance.